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Subject:  Steep approach cost me my cfi cert.
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James314User is Offline
JH Newbie
JH Newbie

03/20/2014 5:19 PM  
I wish to know some of the more experienced takes on the proper execution of a steep approach. Specifically avoiding settling with power. In my early training my instructor told me that as long as you have ETL or above your descent rate can go above 300ft per min and you will not find yourself in swp. We practiced fast approaches and slow approaches (speed less than ETL but descent rate less than 300ft per min). However it always seemed he wanted me to be faster coming into the approach. Fast forward to 2 days and 200 more hours before my Cfi Checkride. A new instructor (different school) critiqued my steep approaches and said I was not necessarily doing anything wrong but should lose less speed and keep a lower descent rate (that is how he liked them) However he said for this particular FAA examiner, I should keep a faster approach because that is how he preferred them. Unfortunately the examiner had a change of heart and ended the Checkride early when I came in with ETL + and a descent rate of about 400 ft - 450 ft He said "good thing you had ETL when you came in because you could have gotten yourself in swp." Needless to say I was a little dumbfounded and have decided to ask all the experienced pilot out several questions. 1. If you eliminate one of the conditions necessary for swp, should you worry about it? If not which condition is better to eliminate? 2. If the answer to Q1 is yes, than did I really get into a swp condition and/or based on the PTS would you have failed the student? 3. I understand that it is unlikely that a pilot can conduct real life steep approaches with ETL or greater. But in cases that you can what is the best approach configuration? Thanks for any feed back!
raven5User is Offline


03/20/2014 8:04 PM  
Examinars and CFIs often pay too much attention on the VSI and too little attention on aircraft attitude, feel, and outside references! There have been many times I've wanted to say to the CFI sitting next to me (including the one on my last job interview) "The VSI has a lag on it, I've already arrested my rate of descent, there's no way we're going into SWP moving this slowely, if you'd just look outside you'd see that"! I feel your pain brother!

One CFI exclaimed to me, better too fast than too slow, another said better too slow than too fast! In the end you have to decide for yourself. Just have valid reasons for why you do it "your" way,...in other words, never say "...because that's how I was taught".

The best steep approach, for me, is to load the disk early and crawl in around 150-200fpm.
8675309User is Offline
JH Newbie
JH Newbie

03/20/2014 9:56 PM  
25 knots, or when looking outside, a steady walking pace, but slightly above etl - less than 300 fpm and lose etl in ground effect - especially with an examiner, but you know that now. 400 -450 fpm should always be avoided, can't think of a reason why you'd want to descend that fast. You'll do better next time, good luck!
DwaineParkerUser is Offline
JH - Addicted!
JH - Addicted!

03/24/2014 8:47 PM  
If you are using the airspeed indicator to determine if you are flying on the edge of ETL, you are setting yourself up for failure. Airspeed indicators are generally unreliable or accurate under 30 kts. It is for this reason you should rely on the shutter of the airframe to know when you are flying on the edge of ETL. This is where you want to be when executing a true confine area landing. By maintaining the shutter you will also be at a safe rate of decent. The decent may seem slow but that is ok because SWP is not your only hazard in executing this maneuver. Power lines, signs and unsuitable ground are also hazards and a quick decent rate will not allow sufficient time for you to evaluate or abort your approach if you see something at the bottom (Been there done that). Remaining at the edge of ETL will allow you to safely apply power / collective to max performance then readjust your pitch angle for best climb and obstacle avoidance. Any decent quicker than this may commit you to landing when you really don't want to. Further more, if the LZ is not a hard surface, the edge of ETL shutter approach will allow for downwash to hit the surface giving you a good indication if a brown out or white out could occur. At night and under goggles, we often come to an OGE hover to determine if brown out conditions exist for remote landings. Which leads me to say that you would never execute a 400 FPM decent on a steep approach to a LZ at night so why risk it during the day? At the end of the day you will hear many techniques so listen to them all and get the best milage that suits the type of mission you fly and aircraft performance available to you at the time. But rule of thumb when I teach is never do anything fast in a helicopter :) Good luck on your next ride, Dwaine
MikemvUser is Offline
JH Guru
JH Guru

03/25/2014 3:16 PM  
James, Is that the way you were taught to do a steep approach at the Pvt. & Commercial levels? As an aviation educator and evaluator, I would have also failed you for flying it as you described. A CFI practical test is less about flying and more about what you would teach to pilots in training. Is this the approach that you would teach? Fly by the book/standards and a DPE/ASI can not fail you. Your CFI that recommended you for this test let you down. Own your training and on your retake think about bringing forward Hazard ID, Risk assessment and Risk management in every maneuver you teach at every certificate level. RM is coming as an element of all tasks in the new IACS that will replace the PTSs. Asking how an approach is done outside of the training environment and applying that to the training of pilots is not going to get you to pass an initial CFI practical test. Best wishes on the retake, teach what is in the book. Mike
pilot135pdUser is Offline
JH - Addicted!
JH - Addicted!

03/28/2014 12:44 AM  
James, I think you got some great advice in the replies so I'm just going to add that at the company I fly for we never go direct to the ground (unless we encounter a brown/white out where it's safer to just land than try to take off again). I think you should always leave yourself an out and coming in fast or with a high rate of descent can lead to bad things.

I suggest reading up on approaches and just do them by the book, it's kept me safe.


Self discipline is when you do something that you know is right even though you don't want to do it. As a professional and safe pilot you have to maintain control over your desires & emotions. Have INTEGRITY and great WORK ETHIC and you'll succeed in life.
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Forums > JH Alternate Forum > General Helicopter Discussion > Steep approach cost me my cfi cert.

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